A comet that likely hasn’t approached the Earth since the upper paleolithic period is set to be visible in January.
The comet, known as C/2022 E3 (ZTF) has a period of 50,000 years. This means it would have last approached Earth at this proximity when the planet was primarily inhabited by homo sapiens who were alive during the last ice age.
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It was first spotted in March 2022 when it was inside Jupiter’s orbit.
According to NASA, E3 will make its closest approach to the sun on Jan. 12 before making its closest approach to Earth on Feb. 2. The Northern Hemisphere will be able to view the comet in the morning during January, while those in the Southern Hemisphere will begin to see it in February.
NASA says viewers will easily be able to spot the rare comet with binoculars and even with the naked eye under the right conditions.
Current photographs of the comet reveal that it has a green hue surrounding it. This is reportedly a halo made of both gas and dust. Its also been reported that the comet has an “intricate tail structure.”
Its February arrival will be the first in recorded history and likely the last for the next several thousand years.